Did the Christ of Christmas Claim to Be God?
I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead,
and behold I am alive for ever and ever!
Please check back daily during the month of December as through Christmas we’ll have an entry from The Heart of Christmas: A Devotional for the Season.
When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples the mother of all questions, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20). Mormons answer the question by saying that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer; Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus was the archangel Michael who appeared in the incarnation as merely human; New Agers say Jesus was an avatar, or messenger. Jesus, however, demonstrated that in the incarnation He was undiminished deity.
First, Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God. As a result, the Jewish leaders tried to kill Him because in “calling God his own Father, [ Jesus was] making himself equal with God” ( John 5:18). In John 8:58 Jesus went so far as to use the very words by which God revealed Himself to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). To the Jews this was the epitome of blasphemy, for they knew that in doing so Jesus was clearly claiming to be God. On yet another occasion, Jesus explicitly told the Jews, “‘I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” ( John 10:30–33).
Furthermore, Jesus made an unmistakable claim to deity before the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin. Caiaphas the high priest asked Him, “‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus, ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven’” (Mark 14:61–62). A biblically illiterate person might well have missed the import of Jesus’ words. Caiaphas and the Council, however, did not. They knew that in saying He was “the Son of Man” who would come “on the clouds of heaven,” He was making an overt reference to “the son of man” in Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 7:13–14). In doing so, He was not only claiming to be the preexistent Sovereign of the Universe, but prophesying that He would vindicate His claim by judging the very court that was now condemning Him. Moreover, by combining Daniel’s prophecy with David’s proclamation in Psalm 110, Jesus was claiming that He would sit on the throne of Israel’s God and share God’s very glory. To students of the Old Testament, this was the height of “blasphemy,” so “they all condemned him as worthy of death” (Mark 14:64).
Finally, during the incarnation, Jesus claimed to possess the very attributes of God. For example, He claimed omniscience by telling Peter, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Matthew 26:34). Jesus declared omnipotence by not only resurrecting Lazarus ( John 11:43), but by raising Himself from the dead (see John 2:19), and Jesus professed omnipresence by promising He would be with His disciples “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Not only so, but Jesus said to the paralytic in Luke 5:20, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” As such, He claimed a prerogative reserved for God alone.
Today as we contemplate the mother of all questions, may we evermore be mindful that the Christ born in a manger is the very One who spoke and caused the limitless galaxies to leap into existence.
“This is what the LORD says—
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
and what is yet to come—
yes, let him foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:6-8)
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12–13)
In what ways do people misidentify Jesus?
What is so significant about Jesus identifying Himself as the “Son of Man”?
—Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.
Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.
Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.